Friday 9th October 1970 (Day 69)
I stayed in bed a little longer than usual because I was buggered after yesterday’s effort. Most of the day was spent writing letters and bringing my log up to date.
Turned in about eight o’clock and read for a while, then called it a day.
The weather again was warm and sunny all day.
Saturday 10th October 1970 (Day 70)
Again another late rising and up and as Het-Ram was coming in the afternoon it looked like being another lazy day. Het-Ram took Jim, Mick, Dave, Keith and I to some sort of fair to do with a religious ceremony. This was, or had been, going on for three days or so in Battul, and today was the last day. During the evening some of us went back to watch a film, which was in Hindi, and later we went on to a cultural show. However by the time this came to an end, about 1.30 in the morning, there were only four of us left. The cultural evening consisted of one or two short plays separated by singing and dancing. All performed, by what we thought was the local ammeter dramatic society.
The weather was sunny and warm all day although the evenings are definitely now becoming quite cool.
Sunday 11th October 1970 (Day 71)
Another lazy day was spent around the camp because Het-Ram had arranged for a meal at his place about six o’clock in the evening. I thought the meal was excellent and everyone else seemed to agree.
The weather was sunny and warm all day.
Note: John published these three days together oon Facebook so we have stuck with the same format.
We left the Farmers place early in the morning, after taking tea with him. Half an hour later we stopped for breakfast. The route we took out of the valley brought us out onto a col more or less opposite to where we had traversed around the big peak the previous day. Yesterday we traversed the peak via the eastern side, traveling around the back via the village and came out onto a col on the western side, therefore more or less circling the peak. From the col we descended into the large valley we had crossed yesterday and joined a reasonable road, which after about six and a half miles joined the main road from Shala-Ghat to Bilaspur. Here we caught the bus back to Shala-Ghat and from there we walked the three and half miles back to Arki and base camp.
There was some good news at camp for me, I had received two letters, one from my sister Maureen and another form my work friend Kieran. I had been looking forward to receiving a letter or two for the last few days. Maureen also informed me that I was to become an Uncle round about April.
The weather was hot and sunny all day.
The road back to Shala-Ghat
After a brew, there was only enough water left for this one brew, we set off up the hill and about an hour or so later we reached the ridge. From here we traversed westward along the ridge to where it formed a col with a very high pointed peak. The only way we could keep our height was to traverse around the right hand side, via a small track. In places the track became very thin with occasional drops of a hundred feet or more, falling away from the edge of the path. On reaching a ridge that ran down from the main peak on the northern side and we descended into the valley below, the valley being on the left the ridge and well traversed with maze fields.
In the bottom of the valley there was a small village at which we had to stop to fill up our water bottles. Seeing that we had to stop, we also decided to have a brew by the water hole. It was while we were having a brew that a local farmer came and asked us whether we would like to have lunch with him. As it turned out we had lunch, an evening meal and some booze plus a bed for the night in a new house he was building. (Note, Himachal Pradesh is a dry State and booze wise we are talking illegal India Moonshine) The farmer was very worldly and spoke very good English due to the fact that he had been an officer in the Indian Air Force. He had to leave the air force because at that time if you had tenanted farmers on your land for more than seven years they had the right to that land, or something like that, hence the reason he had to now farm the land. The Farmer also showed us two caves/rock shelters and said that in this area alone there were over a hundred or more such small caves. Although this sounded rather good at first. It turned out that the two rock shelters we had just seen were the largest know in the area.
We had a very enjoyable evening and turn in for the night rather exhausted.
The weather was very warm and sunny all day.
Mick and I awoke around eight, packed everything up and set off for a cup of tea in Darla. After this short stop we then filled up our water bottles and set off up the valley which runs due north from Darla. About half an hour or so after passing the cave Darla we stopped for breakfast. We followed this valley, which was shallow and rather flat in the bottom, until we reached a small village more or less on the col. Here the valley dropped again slowly at first then sharply into a large valley running east to west. We descended into this valley, after looking at a large rock shelter, and stopped for a short while to take lunch. After lunch we forded a river and made our way up the very large ridge on the opposite side of the river. About halfway up however, we had to stop for it began to get rather dark and we had to find somewhere to sleep for the night. We chose a small flat field just off the track and settled down for what turned out to be a very uncomfortable night.
Throughout the day we had not spotted any caves but there seemed to be an abundance of rock shelters.
The weather during the morning was dull and at one point started to rain, but this soon cleared up and gave way to sunshine. The surrounding high peaks however seemed to be taking the brunt of the early morning thunderstorm. The afternoon was as usual very warm and sunny. The nights now seem to be cooling down somewhat to what they were when we first arrived in India.
We left Arki on the 11:30 bus to Darla. The object of this trip was to photograph the cave above Pajyare Ra-Kolta after which Mick and I would camp for the night outside the cave entrance. There were no Gods attributed to this cave so we thought we might get a good night’s sleep.
The photographing went alright, that is as far as photographing trips go. Jim, Colin, Trevor and Hodge left Mick and I about 4:30in the afternoon and returned back to camp.
The night was spent cooking the evening meal, which Mick burnt, reading and writing an eventually turning in about 9 o’clock.
The weather was sunny and warm all day but during the night it stared lightening with the occasional thunder clap rolling in from the distance. Maybe the Gods weren’t that pleased after all?
Left Arki on the 8:30 bus to Shala-Ghat, but unfortunately we did not manage to catch a bus to Darla until 11:30, which funny enough came from Arki. We being Dave, Johnny, Mick, Hodge and I, Jim and Rod stayed back at camp.
When we reached Darla we split into two groups, one to photograph and survey Dave Hole “Daterh Cave”, and the other to visit the hole above Pajyare Ra-Kolta. Johnny, Hodge and I constituted the first party, Trevor, Mick and Dave the second.
The cave Daterh was basically a rift about 60 or 70 feet long, going into the hill with a cross rift running another 60 or 70 feet. The walls were well decorated with calcite and curtains but not quite as good as in Pajyare Ra-Kolta. After surveying and photographing we returned to Arki, having had to walk all the way from Shala-Ghat again.
Dave, Trevor and Mick on their return brought us some rather good news for a change. The cave they had visited turned out to be the largest so far, not so much the length bit more the size of the rift; it even had a 50ft pitch.
During the night we decided to revisit this cave to survey and photograph it. Mick and I hope to spend about three or four days in this area.
The weather was rather cloudy until about 11 o’clock after which it was warm with sunny intervals.
Ian, Colin and Keith left early in the morning for Solon the rest of us, a little later, cleared up the mess left over the last couple of days. After dinner, or about the time one normally has dinner, Jim Hodge and Dave went up the hill to survey Baili-Sehlot.
Mick and Trevor went to the resurgence at the back of the camp to see if they could make any progress by digging. However, rather than carrying on where Dave left off, they found a new passage to dig but were stopped by a rather loose mass of boulders. The only consolation being that they could see through into a passage that looked passable.
Later on in the evening we decided to revisit the area around Darla to survey and photograph the hole Dave, Johnny and Het-Ram had previously visited and also to look at another hole which was supposed to exist above Pajyare Ra-Kolta.
The weather was a little cloudy in the morning but warm and sunny for the rest of the day.
The early start to the day was upset somewhat when the bus from Arki to Shala-Ghat broke down and was therefore late on arrival.
Trevor, Hodge and I went to photograph and survey the hole we had found the previous day while Het-Ram, Johnny and Dave went up to the other hole which was supposed to be three days long. The surveying and photographing took about an hour and a half and on returning to the village, we saw that that Dave and company were already back, which unfortunately only meant one thing.
The cave they had visited was no more than 150ft long, but like the one we had just surveyed it was full of flowstone. Again we were told of another cave in this , so again we decided to come back to look at this new one and survey the other.
Another disappointment was in store for us on the way back. The bus we caught was also carrying Rod, Jim and Mick who were returning from Bilaspur. The area according to Jim was a load of crap so we just left it at that.
On returning to camp we thought that seeing that Bilaspur was now off the list the next to try would be Solon. Keith, Colin and Ian therefore decided to give it a try for a couple of days.
The weather was warm and sunny all day.
Rod, Mick and Jim left early in the morning to go to Bilaspur. Johnny, Dave, Trevor and I managed a lie in because we had arranged to meet Het-Ram at eleven o’clock in Arki. However, when we met him at the bus station it turned out that we had another hour to wait for the bus.
The bus took us all the way to the village of Darla, a short distance from which was supposed to be the cave we were looking for. As it turned out the cave was only one and a quarter miles from the road and this being easy walking through one or two maize fields and a couple of farm houses.
The cave was situated on the side of a hill, the entrance being a small hole between a couple of boulders. On entering the cave one dropped down about six feet or more and entered a small rift. The bottom of the rift, which was bedded at about 70 degrees and soon became chocked by boulder and dirt and no progress, could be made to the right, one had to travers to the left. This traverse became a flat out crawling over and through jammed boulders until the rift opened out again. Here the rift was wide enough to probably be called a chamber. In this chamber you had to slide down through a narrow and rather awkward hole through jammed boulders and we used a ladder to make things a little easier. Again no progress could be made in the bottom of the rift. Traversing along the rift about 15 feet from the bottom the rift becomes narrow but it was possible, after banging one or two bits off the curtains to squeeze through into the next chamber. This squeeze however, was too tight for Dave and only Trevor and I could managed to get through, Johnny and Het-Ram being on the surface.
The procedure of not being able to pass through in the bottom and traversing up in the rift then having to drop back down again was repeated a couple of times until eventually we could go no further.
The whole system was very well decorated with flow stone and curtains and the general opinion was that it was the best find so far.
On our way back from the cave Het-Ram had been talking to one of the locals and he told us of another cave in this neighbourhood. This cave however, was supposed to be three days long with a house inside. We therefore decided to return the following day to survey and photograph the one we had just been down and also visit the new one we had just been told about.
By the time we had reached Shala-Ghat there were no more busses so we had to walk the rest of the way into Arki 4.5 miles.
The weather was fine and sunny all day.
Jim, Keith and I caught the eight o’clock bus out of Arki for Simla. On arriving in Simla we immediately sought out someone in the Tourist Office to arrange for an interview with the State Geologist.
Fortunately this was done and we arranged to meet at 12 o’clock. However, before this interview we had to visit a camera shop, book shop, bank and Post Office, unfortunately this made us an hour late with the interview with the Geologist.
The interview was quite interesting and threw a certain amount of light on our problems concerning the prospect of finding a new caving area. The areas that we were told might prove good were; Solen, which is just south of Simla; Bilaspur which is to the north, about 37 miles from Arki, and Kulu, this being further north between Mandi and Minali. All these areas contain limestone more in line with what we have been looking for. The area around Arki we were told contained limestone that was relatively new, thinly bedded and not very conducive to the formation of caves. We were told that the small caves and rock shelters we had been finding were typical of this sort of limestone, and the chances of finding anything of any length was rather thin.
On returning to camp it was decided that we should tidy up our work around Arki and then make some investigations into the areas suggested by the State Geologist. Rod, Mick and Jim therefore decided to pay the area around Bilaspur a visit. This however means that they would be away from camp for three days.
The rest of us while they are away will finish off tidying up although Dave and company, on returning from another rick shelter type temple, were told of another cave which was supposed to be eight miles long. Like most of these tails, although we do not put much faith in them, have to be followed through in case of one in ten chances that they may be true.
We were told today that Enerjee was returning to Simla tomorrow and that we would not likely see him again; however we still have the Forest Warden.
The weather was sunny all day at Arki but during the afternoon in Simla we had rain.
Below a view of Simla